The performance was always going to take second place to the result yesterday – after three defeats in a row the rot simply had to come to an end. Besides, in those three games the performance hadn’t been that bad, just the killer touch.
At half time it wasn’t looking great, with Fabregas missing a howler in an otherwise decent performance (missed sitter and own goal aside, he ran the midfield, but it seems on highlight reels much is made of the individual mistakes rather than the overall contribution), but fortunately Reading, to their credit, did not come to the Emirates to plant eleven men behind the ball as so many have done. Clichy, in the midst of an excellent performance, won a penalty with sheer pace, and Baptista clumsily found himself in a position to score, and toe poked it into the corner, which should do his confidence a world of good.
But Reading have won many admirers this season, and they weren’t laying down. Sidwell should’ve scored before the own goal, and Lehmann’s terrific last gasp save sealed the points.
Looking at the rest of the weekend, it couldn’t have gone much better – the top four now look secure with Bolton and Portsmouth losing, and now Liverpool are only one point ahead having played two games more.
Meanwhile, Graham Barber has joined the long list of people having a pop at Arsene Wenger, the former top flight referee saying he was “out of order”for suggesting the linesman lied in the Adebayor case. Occasionally Wenger does take things too far, but not this time. You only had to see the anger on his face in the interviews he’s given over the past few days to see that he firmly believes his own convictions, and given that video evidence supports him, I think he is absolutely right to take this as far as he can.
It’s getting ridiculous now how protected match officials are. Making mistakes in a match is understandable, players and managers make them equally as often, but constructing a story after the match to cover up that mistake is disgraceful, and the claim that the linesman was watching Adebayor ‘throw a punch’ when he was clearly watching Eboue is foolish as it can be easily disproved by video evidence. Wenger is entitled to take the backup of a video technician to prove his case, especially as if he can’t, he’ll get a touchline ban. Knowing the FA, he might get the ban regardless.
But the fact remains – Adebayor did not throw a punch, he has been punished for Eboue’s misdemeanors, and it does not help the situation when men such as Barber decide to wade in. It is showing a clear divide between managers and referees, with Warnock and Moyes supporting Wenger, while Barber and Jeff Winter back the match officials.
Given the FA’s history, the likely outcome is a fine and a possible touchline ban for Wenger, with no other action being taken. But behind the scenes, this one could run and run.